Anti-nuclear movement in the United Kingdom

Anti-nuclear movement
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The anti-nuclear movement in the United Kingdom consists of groups who oppose nuclear technologies such as nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Many different groups and individuals have been involved in anti-nuclear demonstrations and protests over the years.

One of the most prominent anti-nuclear groups in the UK is the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). CND's Aldermaston Marches began in 1958 and continued into the late 1960s when tens of thousands of people took part in the four-day marches. One significant anti-nuclear mobilization in the 1980s was the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp. In London, in October 1983, more than 300,000 people assembled in Hyde Park as part of the largest protest against nuclear weapons in British history. In 2005 in Britain, there were many protests about the government's proposal to replace the aging Trident weapons system with a newer model.

Contents

Context

A Trident II SLBM launched from a Royal Navy Vanguard class ballistic missile submarine.

There are large variations in peoples’ understanding of the issues surrounding nuclear power, including the technology itself, climate change, and energy security. There is a wide spectrum of views and concerns over nuclear power[1] and it remains a controversial area of public policy.[2] Nuclear power currently provides around 20% of the UK’s electricity.[3]

The UK also has nuclear weapons in the form of Trident missiles which are located on a fleet of submarines, and the funding and deployment of these weapons has also been widely debated.[4][5]

Anti-nuclear protests

Greenham Common peace sign
Police dismantling a blockade of protestors at the south gate of the Faslane naval base.
Anti-nuclear march from London to Geneva, 2008

The first Aldermaston March organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament took place at Easter 1958, when several thousand people marched for four days from Trafalgar Square, London, to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment close to Aldermaston in Berkshire, England, to demonstrate their opposition to nuclear weapons.[6][7] The Aldermaston marches continued into the late 1960s when tens of thousands of people took part in the four-day marches.[8]

One significant anti-nuclear mobilization in the 1980s was the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp. It began in September 1981 after a Welsh group called "Women for Life on Earth" arrived at Greenham to protest against the decision of the Government to allow cruise missiles to be based there.[9] The women's peace camp attracted significant media attention and "prompted the creation of other peace camps at more than a dozen sites in Britain and elsewhere in Europe".[9] In December 1982 some 30,000 women from various peace camps and other peace organisations held a major protest against nuclear weapons on Greenham Common.[10]

On 1 April 1983, about 70,000 people linked arms to form a human chain between three nuclear weapons centres in Berkshire. The anti-nuclear demonstration stretched for 14 miles along the Kennet Valley.[11]

In London, in October 1983, more than 300,000 people assembled in Hyde Park. This was "the largest protest against nuclear weapons in British history", according to the New York Times.[10]

Faslane Naval Base has nuclear capable missiles and is part of the HM Naval Base Clyde in Scotland. Faslane has attracted demonstrations by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Trident Ploughshares. A permanent peace camp is outside the base gates, and there are frequent demonstrations at the base gates. The Scottish National Party, the Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Green Party all oppose the deployment of nuclear weapons, and it is not unusual for members of these parties to be present at rallies outside Faslane. Such events aim to keep the base closed for as long as possible by preventing its staff from arriving for work, and usually involve large numbers of protesters being arrested for non-violent civil disobedience.

In 2005 in Britain, there were many protests about the government's proposal to replace the aging Trident weapons system with a newer model. The largest protest had 100,000 participants and, according to polls, 59 percent of the public opposed the move.[12]

In October 2008 in the United Kingdom, more than 30 people were arrested during one of the largest anti-nuclear protests at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston for 10 years. The demonstration marked the start of the UN World Disarmament Week and involved about 400 people.[13]

Specific groups

The now-familiar peace symbol was originally the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament logo.

One of the most prominent anti-nuclear groups in the UK is the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). CND favours nuclear disarmament by all countries and tighter international regulation through treaties such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. CND is also opposed to any new nuclear power stations being built in the United Kingdom. One of the activities most strongly associated with CND is the Aldermaston Marches. Other anti-nuclear groups in the UK include:

Public opinion

A large nationally representative 2010 British survey about energy issues found that public opinion is divided on the issue of nuclear power. The majority of people are concerned about nuclear power and public trust in the government and nuclear industry remains relatively low. The survey showed that there is a clear preference for renewable energy sources over nuclear power.[24]

According to a national opinion poll, support for nuclear power in the UK dropped by twelve percent following the 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents.[25]

As of 2011, the government's programme to build new nuclear power stations in England will be "delayed by at least three months so that lessons can be learned from the accident at Fukushima in Japan".[26][27]

Academics

In 2008, several prominent UK academics spoke out against the government's proposal to build a new generation of nuclear power plants:[28][29]

Other individuals

See also

Peace sign.svg Social movements portal

References

  1. ^ Sustainable Development Commission. Public engagement and nuclear power
  2. ^ Sustainable Development Commission. Is Nuclear the Answer? p. 12.
  3. ^ Sustainable Development Commission. The Role of Nuclear Power in a Low Carbon Economy p. 1.
  4. ^ UK nuclear weapons plan unveiled BBC News, 4 December 2006.
  5. ^ Helen Pidd. Trident nuclear missiles are £20bn waste of money, say generals The Guardian, 16 January 2009.
  6. ^ Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The history of CND
  7. ^ "Early defections in march to Aldermaston". Guardian Unlimited. 1958-04-05. http://century.guardian.co.uk/1950-1959/Story/0,,105488,00.html. 
  8. ^ Jim Falk (1982). Global Fission: The Battle Over Nuclear Power, Oxford University Press, pp. 96-97.
  9. ^ a b David Cortright (2008). Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas, Cambridge University Press, p. 147.
  10. ^ a b David Cortright (2008). Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas, Cambridge University Press, p. 148.
  11. ^ Paul Brown, Shyama Perera and Martin Wainwright. Protest by CND stretches 14 miles The Guardian, 2 April 1983.
  12. ^ Lawrence S. Wittner. A rebirth of the anti-nuclear weapons movement? Portents of an anti-nuclear upsurge Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 7 December 2007.
  13. ^ More than 30 arrests at Aldermaston anti-nuclear protest The Guardian, 28 October 2008.
  14. ^ CANSAR
  15. ^ Low Level Radiation Campaign
  16. ^ News and information about the UK nuclear industry
  17. ^ No new nukes!
  18. ^ Welcome to Nuclear Pledge
  19. ^ Shutdown Sizewell Campaign
  20. ^ Nuclear incident only avoided by eagle-eyed contractor
  21. ^ Stop Hinkley
  22. ^ Anti-nuclear groups fear danger at new reactor
  23. ^ Nuclear is too little, too late and too dangerous
  24. ^ Spence, Alexa et al. (2010). Public Perceptions of Climate Change and Energy Futures in Britain School of Psychology, Cardiff University.
  25. ^ Bibi van der Zee (22 March 2011). "Japan nuclear crisis puts UK public off new power stations". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/mar/22/japan-nuclear-crisis-uk-power-stations. 
  26. ^ Rob Edwards (5 April 2011). "UK nuclear plans on hold after Fukushima". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/05/uk-nuclear-plan-fukushima. 
  27. ^ Kari Lundgren (July 28, 2011). "Centrica Says Nuclear Plants Likely Delayed, Slows Spending". Bloomberg Businessweek. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-07-28/centrica-says-nuclear-plants-likely-delayed-slows-spending.html. 
  28. ^ Scientists take on Brown over nuclear plans
  29. ^ Nuclear Consultation: Public Trust in Government
  30. ^ Paul Dorfman. Power Trip The Guardian, 23 May 2007.
  31. ^ Fears over nuclear waste transport plan
  32. ^ Jon Kelly. Nuclear veterans vow to fight on BBC News, 10 January 2008.

External links


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